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Students Visit Asia

Bike Boy Lost

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Today we had an adventure with the bike boy. Starla, Kendra, Laken, and I decided to go to the market for some last minute shopping, but little did we know the market didn't open till later on. So we walked around and found this 4-D Imax movie theater, which was amazing. I'm talking seats moving, water spraying in your face, and snakes striking at you. After the movie we went back to the market and shopped until it started pouring the rain. We went straight for a bike boy, a motor bike boy. We first gave him our card so he would know where to take us, then we get in and we are on our way. After about 5 minutes we start going down this dark alley, of course we are all freaking out, especially little Laken, because we had no clue what is going on. Then we finally figured out we were lost, but no worries the bike boy asked for directions and brought us back to safety.

Much Love,
Krystal Scarberry

Beihai

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Yesterday, we traveled on a bus to the beach in Beihai. I was so happy about going! I haven't been to a beach since 2008 and have wanted to go again. Beihai was nice; there was some construction and the city looks like it'll be different in the next few years and developed. One of the first things I wanted to do was rent a jet ski, it turned out that it was 10 Yuan a minute! I couldn't believe it. I was not going to pay 10 Yuan a minute, that's basically just throwing money away but if I had money to burn I would've rented one. The beach was nice; I looked for seashells to take back home and found good ones. It felt really nice at the beach since there was constant wind and the water is the warmest that I've been in. Today wasn't that pretty and there were rough waves so I didn't swim in the water. We went to Silver Beach which was on down from our hotel. It was nice, but it wasn't as nice as the one we were at. I loved being at the beach and would love to go back. Our trip there was too short and I wish we could have stayed longer.

~Ashley Carter

Nicest people ever

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I was hesitant about doing a home-stay with complete strangers. I didn't want to do one by myself or do it at all. We had a dinner for all of our friends Friday evening at 6pm. The dinner was really good and I ate quite a bit. After socializing and eating, we learned who we were staying with. Lauren and I were going to stay with Kim and her husband Steven. When we arrived to their apartment, I was impressed by how nice and big it is. We talked before we went to sleep. It was really nice talking to Steven and Kim. Kim's mother stays with them and we met her. She doesn't speak any english but she's nice. Steven fixed breakfast and lunch for us; lunch and dinner was amazing! I've never eaten so much food in my life but it was very enjoyable. Steven is a great cook and I appreciate him cooking for us and for making sweet n sour pork. Staying at their house for one night and part of a day is not enough time. I know that I'll come back to China sometime and see them. They were very nice and welcoming. We left early yesterday after dinner.

~Ashley Carter

Hanoi and the Midnight Train

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I finally made it to Vietnam, and the trip was wonderful. Like China, Vietnam has a great deal of construction. We stayed in the Old Quarter, and the people were friendly. The French clearly influenced the architecture, and the buildings very much have a colonial feel. The Old Quarter is crowded in and the little shops are neat and clean. The Vietnamese clearly take pride in their places of business. Westerners are everywhere, and you can get by with English. A few Westerners even own restaurants. I felt very at home.

We visited the infamous Hanoi Hilton, where American pilots were kept as POWs. There are numerous photos of John McCain. We also had an excellent trip to the American Embassy in Hanoi. One of the representatives was from Madison County, Kentucky.

We also had a productive meeting with officials at the Hanoi Foreign Trade University. Who knows, I may make it back to Vietnam.

Vietnam was all that I expected and more. The traffic was similar to China's, but with more mopeds, and the always constant horn honking.

We took the night train back to Nanning, and that was an experience. We had sleeper cars and were awoke around 4:00 am to go through Vietnamese and then Chinese Customs. It had the feel of a Cold War spy film.

See you soon.

John Ernst

A Day in Vietnam

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The day started with a trip to a military prison, where a lot of Americans were held after they were captured. This prison even held John McCain for over 5 years after he was shot down form his plan. It was intense seeing all the jail cells the people stayed in, definitely something I will never forget. After the prison we took a trip to a museum, looked around for a little while and then got lunch. Then we visited a University were we got to interact with a group of students who plan to study in the U.S., but after all of this the best part came. A full body massage at the hotel just tipped off the great day in Vietnam.

Much Love,
Krystal Scarberry

Temporarily Adopted

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With all our adventures here in China, it is still amazing that we were able to arrange for a night with a host family. For half of the day, the students helped prepare Japanese Curry for the banquet where we would meet our host families. Before I begin, I guess I should revise my last statement by explaining helping as mainly test tasting and explaining that we still don't know why Japanese Curry represents American cuisine. Nevertheless, the curry was good and we got to relax before beginning our trip "home". As we got to the banquet, we met several of the English speaking students from previous meetings and caught up on what we had missed with them. The students and parents also made food for us and we made our way around talking and eating. After the food was gone and the rain had started, I met Kim, my host parent. We had met her several times before and she was responsible for helping us organize our trip in China. We were both excited to meet each other and live together. She told us about her family, especially her son, Roger, her pride as a mother. When we got to her house, she gave us a tour, introduced us to her family, and explained certain paintings they had in the house. One of the paintings was by her husband who painted Peonies and explained the importance of watercolors in Chinese art. He told us that water emphasized the importance of flow in the painting. Kim also explained the paintings by a famous artist that represented traditional Chinese sayings like Race towards the Sun and Here we share a cup of Tea. Through these paintings I noted Chinese hospitality and also some similarities with Western sayings like Reach for the Stars. That night I talked with Steven, Kim's husband, about politics and with Kim about her hopes of setting up an exchange program for her students.

The next day, her husband cooked the most delicious meal I have ever had in China. He cooked sweet n' sour chicken, bar-b-qued pork, chicken wings, two types of eggplant, green beans, shredded pork, and later steamed buns and crab. While eating this meal, I was reaffirmed of the fact that home cooking always is better than eating out.

Later we went shopping, looking at the community, and down local streets to see how everyone lives. Kim told me about her love of ice cream, something we both share, and some of her trips in the United States. I was sorry to leave their house early. We talked about so many differences between Western and Chinese culture as well as our happy experiences in China. Kim's mother cried for us as she explained the sadness of a child being away from their parent which really emphasized how important family is to the Chinese and how blessed we were to be accepted into their home. At the end of the night, Kim drove me back on her moped, officially establishing that I have travelled by every piece of transportation in China.

Lauren VanHook


The Socratic debate with a Chinese Scholar

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Last night was one that reminded me of the conversation in Plato's The Republic. My host father, Steven, is a professor at the college and stated that he loved talking about politics. We began with the opening question of how one could unify the world and bring everyone together, especially under a government. He proposed that the best way to establish harmony was if everyone gathered under one consciousness, forgoing personal preferences for the sake of the group. By everyone joining the political consciousness and taking the time to examine all aspects of a situation before reaching a conclusion then we could achieve world harmony. I, however, advocated that a form of personal identity and opinion was necessary (if on a small scale) for happiness to still exist within such a system. Using American promoted values, I explained how personal identity and expression gave a person pride, strength, and confidence behind their work. He agreed that the American values should be incorporated into the system because such democratic values were better than most current systems, but he still maintained that the collective consciousness was the most important since it could most effectively assign justice. Which brings us to the Socratic part of the debate. I asked him how justice could be dealt out since it is hard to measure and there is no agreed consensus about the appropriate universal laws. Steven explained that the only way was to create a universal law that prevented harm to others and if harm was placed on a person, then physical punishment would correct such crimes. I immediately disagreed since crime can be interpreted differently and there is always more than physical damage associated with a crime. Damage such as psychological damage cannot be as easily measured but also is a consequence of crime. In order to establish equilibrium, the emotional trauma must also be addressed. Throughout the conversation we debated these principles, occasionally adding in real world examples from the US, China, Japan, Greece, Germany, and other countries. As the debate progressed, it was interesting to see the incorporation of principles from our backgrounds forming our arguments. Steven emphasized the establishment of community, something I've noticed reoccur in conversations with some of the people here. Meanwhile, Steven noted my western influence from the US. Eventually the debate came to an abrupt close as Ashley fell asleep during the Steven and I's debate. We never fully came to a resolution to the discussion, but it was certainly a debate that intertwined both our cultures.

Lauren VanHook


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